Saturday, November 30, 2013


We have been enjoying this  Old Vine Zinfandel for a few weeks.  I had planned to write a blog about it soon.  But, today the Costco wine blog did a review and I think I should weigh in now!  The 2012 XYZIN Old Vine Zinfndel is available at my local(Greenville SC) Costco for $9.99.  This is not a wine you need to hold until you are grilling a rib steak.  This is a medium bodied, spicy Zin that pairs well with pizza, a juicy hamburger,  or even Indian cuisine.  I will buy it until it is no longer available at my Costco.  If you want to read another review, go to

Friday, November 29, 2013

Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay

This is my favorite chardonney.  You cannot buy it at Costco but it is available at Total Wines for $12.99.  I do not care for a heavy oak, creamy, buttery, butterscotch, chardonnay.  This one spent 8 months in hungarian oak but the result is a fruit forward, medium bodied wine with flavors of pear and citrus.  I also feel a slight fizz on the tongue.  The wine has an A.C. of 13.5%. 

Cindy and I visited the Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma a couple of years ago and it was one of the most interesting vineyards we have ever seen.  Everything is done in an environmentally sustainable way using natural vineyard management.  The birds and other predators eliminate the harmful insects and no chemicals are ever used on the vines.  If you are ever in wine country, be sure and visit this vineyard. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do not buy this wine

Back in October, I found "Trim 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon" at my Costco.  The sign indicated that this wine was highly rated in the previous vintage but not rated for 2011.  It was only $9.99 and looked like a great deal for a California Cab.  I thought I should buy 2 bottles before they were all sold.  I came home and opened the first bottle.  I thought that it was worse than 2 buck chuck!  I poured a glass for Cindy and without prompting she thought it was bland and tasted watered down.  I let a month go by.  I have found that sometimes I think a wine is not good, but when I open another bottle I wonder why I did not like it before.  Tonight, I opened the other bottle and it was as bad or worse than the first bottle.  Maybe we can throw it into pasta sauce or something.  Last week, I noticed that there were still more bottles at Costco.  Somehow, everyone else knew something I did not figure out!  At least, if you read this, you will not be fooled!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2010 Tranco

Spanish wines are some of the best bargains available today and this is one you cannot pass up.  The 2010 Tranco is a blend of 75% Monastrell and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Yecla region of southeast Spain.  Monastrell is probably better known as Mouvedre when grown in France.  All of the grapes in this wine are organically farmed at high elevations.  The wine has 14% A.C.  Robert Parker of the Wine Advocate has called it a "marvelous bargain" and rated it a 90 score.

The wine only aged in French and American oak for 3 months but the wine is now 3 years old.  It has a rich, spicy, fruity, complex flavor which compares well with California wines that cost twice as much.  I think this vintage is even better than the 2009 which was previously available.

This wine sells for $6.99 at Costco.  If you can find a better wine for less than $7, please let me know.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2011

How can you pass up a wine with a name like this.  It is currently available at Costco in limited supply for $9.99.  The Velvet Devil Merlot is produced by Charles Smith Wines from the Columbia Valley in southeast Washington state.  The wine is composed of 83% Merlot, 8% Malbec, 6% Cabernet Sauvingnon, and 3% Syrah.  Previous vintages did not have Malbec and Syrah so they will taste a little different if you find them.  The Charles Smith website specifies the 4 vineyards that are the sources for this wine.  They are not all officially within the Columbia Valley AVA so the label specifies this wine as from Washington State rather than specifying Columbia Valley.  (The State of Washington is the second largest producer of wine in the US, trailing California by a wide margin.)

I find this wine more flavorful than most merlots, probably because of the Cab, Malbec and Syrah in the blend.  Merlot has had less acceptance since the Sideways movie but I recommend that you give this a shot.  I think it will pair nice with a hamburger or pizza.  The label is plain white with black letters and a large pitchfork on the right side.  For this price you cannot go wrong but you should hurry because it may not be available long.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wine Spectator Ratings

Wine Spectator Magazine annually selects their top 100 wines of the year.  They have published this list in the last week and their magazine is now free online so that you can see their top 100 list.  This will be available only for the next 2 weeks.  Most of the wines on the list are well above our $20 limit but there are a few below that price.  One wine that is available at Costco for a very affordable price is the Norton Reserve Malbec.  It is in my wine rack waiting for a special occasion.

Useful Blogs

I have found that these blogs are useful to me:
Costco Wine Blog
Reverse Wine Snob

Google these and connect.  I hope you enjoy them

Kirkland Wines

I have found that the Kirkland Wines at Costco are usually a good buy.  They are usually priced lower than the equivalent name brand wines.  When you see a Kirkland wine in a category you like, you should stock up because it will be gone when you go to Costco next week.

Wineries Close to Home

It is a lot of fun to visit wineries and taste their wines.  If you live in upstate South Carolina, it is an easy weekend trip to the wineries of the Yadkin Valley North Carolina.  My wife Cindy and I have done this twice, recently with our friends Denny and Martha.  Wineries that we enjoyed were Raffaldini Vineyards, Westbend Vineyards, Flint Hill Vineyards and Shelton Vineyards.  The lunch at Childress Vineyards was great but skip the wine tasting- it was expensive and not very good!

Thanksgiving Wine

A favorite wine to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey is Pinot Noir.  Here is one pinot that I think goes very well with your turkey and appeals to all of your guests, wine veterans or rookies: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2011.  This wine has the right blend of fruit, sweetness and zip.  New Zealand is famous for its pinot and this will not disappoint.  Enjoy!

Where I Shop

In Greenville, we have 4 major retailers of wine on Woodruff Road.  I have found that name brand wine costs more at Whole Foods and Trader Joes than at Costco and Total Wine.

Total Wine has name brand wines and wines they call "Winery Direct".   Name brand wines usually have prices that end in 7 and are excluded from their coupons.  The name brand wines are  usually located on the highest and lowest shelves while the winery direct wines are at eye level on the middle shelves.  The name brand wines are usually priced very well and are competitive with Costco.  Clearly, Total Wine wants to entice you into the store with the name brands and switch you to the winery direct wines where they have better profit margins.  There are many signs saying that if you like this name brand wine, you should try this other winery direct wine.  If you ask for assistance from a clerk, they will always recommend a winery direct wine.  It has been my experience that the winery direct wines are a little overpriced, even with coupon savings.  If you shop Total Wine and stick with the top and bottom shelf wines with prices ending in 7, you will do well.  However, you will need to know what you are looking for because the clerks will not be helpful in finding a name brand wine.

I buy most of my wine at Costco.  The prices are unbeatable and Costco's wine buyers have a knack for selecting excellent wines.  It is always an adventure to shop for wine because you never know what the selection will be.  There are always new wines to try.  Costco does an great job of displaying the ratings done by reputable organizations such as Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast.

Welcome to my Blog

This blog is for the average Joe who buys wine that costs less than $20 at your local grocery or big box store.  If you routinely drink wine that is more expensive from your local wine shop and have a cellar full of collectable wine, this blog will not be for you.  In Greenville SC we have the 4 largest retailers of wine on one stretch of Woodruff Road- Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Costco and Total Wine and More.  This blog will help you find great wine at an affordable price.